We know, from the letters of thanks we receive, that our support makes a big difference to real lives. We provide short-term help, to enable someone to get back on their feet after a crisis, as well as long-term support, via regular payments and grants.
We work in strict confidence but we are grateful to those who agree to share their stories.
Peter Holliday, a 53-year-old self-employed agricultural contractor from Silloth in Cumbria, was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2015. His first thoughts were not about his illness or his long-term future. It was how would he and wife Ali pay the bills while he was undergoing surgery and radiotherapy? Peter said: “The disease itself didn’t really faze me, although it upset everyone around me. It was the financial side of things that bothered me.”
R.A.B.I and Macmillan Cancer Support helped him throughout his treatment – with R.A.B.I clearing some domestic bills and covering the costs of hospital travel.
Peter said: “You’ve no idea how much it meant to me to see a cheque arrive through the door, it was such a weight off my mind. All I could see was a heap of bills on the table."
Farming was all Anthony ever knew as a child. His grandfather farmed 50 acres, his dad was a farmworker and his mother used to milk 250 cows every day.
By the age of 16, Anthony was a herdsman himself, planning his future. A year later, however, life was very different. Struck down by muscular dystrophy, a serious muscle-wasting disease, Anthony found himself in a wheelchair with all of his plans on hold for good. Today, Anthony lives in a specially adapted bungalow and is unable to use his arms or legs.
R.A.B.I helped Anthony by providing him with a special bed, so he could turn himself during the night when he became uncomfortable, rather than rely on his live-in carer. We also provided a special seat and hoist for his van and an all-terrain ‘Boma’ wheelchair, giving him the freedom to go out into the countryside on his own.
Anthony said: “I really can’t thank R.A.B.I enough for what they’ve done for me, they’ve been brilliant.”
Greg is a self-employed farm worker who has a hereditary kidney disease. He explained: “I got terribly tired and would fall asleep as soon as I got in from work."
His wife Carol offered to be a donor and the couple had two years of tests and preparation before the transplant to reduce the risk of rejection. The couple knew they would both be off work and without an income at the same time but R.A.B.I helped them apply for the state benefits they were entitled to and also helped with grants for household bills.
Carol said: “Without R.A.B.I we’d have gone into debt, from which we’d have struggled to recover. R.A.B.I gave us a cushion to support us through the operations. It wasn’t just the offer of financial help but also the help with claiming benefits and filling in forms.”
Greg added: “It’s hard to ask for help – pride gets in the way and farmers are a proud bunch. But I’d say to anyone in the same situation just ask. With R.A.B.I’s help we’re now back on our feet”.
Trouble often comes out of the blue so you don’t know where to turn - that was Jacqueline’s experience when her youngest child Pippa developed a life-limiting, disabling illness. Jacqueline explained: “Doctors said it was a miracle that she lived until she was 28. She was such a lovely person and as her body got weaker, her spirit became stronger.”
Jacqueline cared for Pippa on her own, so finances were tight. As a treat she had booked a holiday at a riding centre for disabled people, but faced having to cancel it when her washing machine and freezer broke down and needed to be replaced at the same time.
She said: “I didn’t know how to tell Pippa we couldn’t go. I’d always been told that if you couldn’t afford something you had to do without, but this was so special for Pippa. The Citizens' Advice Bureau recommended that I contact R.A.B.I and getting in touch was the start of a wonderful friendship. We realised we weren’t alone anymore.”
R.A.B.I helped to pay for the holiday and also helped with the cost of a wheelchair for Pippa. Jacqueline added: "It’s not just about the money, it's knowing that someone cares – who you can talk to."